Ed. By George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Old Venus is the quick follow-up to Old Mars, a terrific collection full of stories set on the Red Planet. This time we’re off to visit our other next-door neighbour, with results that are just as thrilling and surprising.
What Martin and Dozois mean by “old” Venus is a mythic version of the second rock from the Sun that was current in the early part of the twentieth century, and which inspired a lot of Golden Age SF of the type dubbed “Planetary Romance.”
The stories here are very much in that same vein, set on a fantasy Venus that turns out to be a hot, humid environment where the rain never lets up and whose surface is all sea and swamp. Among the other exotic flora and fauna, the native Venusians tend to be froggy creatures who find themselves in ambiguous relations with the human colonists.
It’s hard to generalize though, as this is a wonderfully varied collection that goes from horror to comedy, and political neo-noir to classic adventure tale. At this rate, one hopes the editors will continue to explore our old solar system.